First Grade, iPads, and the New Language of Six-Year-Olds

We’re driving across town, and my six-year-old and I have the following conversation:

“Mom, I uploaded two new apps to the iPad they gave me in computer time today.”

 (Note: I don’t have an iPad.  I don’t even have a phone that connects to the internet.)

“Really?  What apps?” 

“Well, one is for learning words, and the other is a game you play with another person. And the other person is really a computer program!”

“That sounds fun,” I say, but I’m still wondering why my daughter uses an iPad and I don’t.  She’s uploading apps, and I’m not sure I would know how. 

I remember my first grade year.  This language of apps and uploading didn’t exist in my vocabulary.  Many words my six-year-old knows didn’t exist when I was a first grader:  Google, Facebook, MP3’s, DVR’s, DVD’s, Internet, and even words like microwave and cell phones never came out of my mouth.  In fact, we didn’t have a home computer until after I was in college.  Even more shocking is that I dated my husband without the use of cell phones or texting.  We didn’t own mobile phones back then.

My college students always ask me how that worked.  “How did you find each other during the day?  How did anybody know where you were?”  They stare at me, mouths agape, breathing rapidly in terror as they imagine a world without texting.  

“Well, a person might leave a message on an answering machine on a ground line phone or write a note with an actual pencil and post it to the dorm room door.”

It’s inconceivable to them.

I wonder–in forty years–what someone might ask my daughter about life in 2011.  You used iPads?  How old-fashioned!  How did you ever manage?

What words will a future generation speak that have not yet come into existence? 

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Journal:  Does it shock you that first-graders use iPads and upload apps as part of a school day?

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